Joe Perry has said that he’s never understood why people describe him as Aerosmith’s lead guitarist, noting some of the “best solos in our catalog” came from his co-guitarist, Brad Whitford.
Both players are interviewed about Aerosmith’s 50-year wild ride in the new issue of Guitar World, which features an extensive exploration of their (somewhat bumpy) journey to rock guitar’s highest echelons.
In his interview, Perry points out that Whitford’s lead ability is often overlooked when people discuss Aerosmith and that their six-string dynamic is more about alternating, rather than a straight split between rhythm and lead duties.
“We've always kinda shifted back and forth where maybe Brad takes the first part, I take the second, he takes the third and I take the fourth”, explains Perry.
“That's basically what we did on Love in an Elevator. And then, during the breakdown, that's me playing. But it’s always rubbed me the wrong way when people put Brad down and only refer to me as the lead guitarist.
“We're both guitar players in the band, you know? Brad is a wicked soloist. In my book, some of the best solos in our catalog are ones Brad did.”
Alongside Love in an Elevator’s opening solo, other notable Whitford contributions include the second solo on Dude (Looks Like a Lady), the co-lead on Back in the Saddle, Last Child, Round and Round, Kings and Queens, Milk Cow Blues (first solo)... The list literally goes on.
Perry points out that Whitford went to Berklee and is in many ways a far more musically-adept player. Despite 50 years of playing together, though, he says they’ve never really talked about who would play what.
“It was more about who would play a Strat and who would play a Gibson,” says Perry.
“Because we wanted to have two different guitar sounds in there… In my mind, we could be like the Yardbirds in those rare times when you had Jimmy [Page] and Jeff [Beck] together. That's what we wanted Aerosmith to be.”
There are, however, a few songs from 1974’s Get Your Wings that we know neither Whitford or Perry played on. Indeed, in his own interview, Brad Whitford recalls the time Aerosmith’s producer called in session pro Steve Hunter to replace his and Joe Perry’s lead lines.
To read Perry and Whitford’s full interviews, in which they discuss the performances, gear, and personal fallouts from 50 years of Aerosmith – pick up issue 571 of Guitar World.